The church is a place of meeting and connection

In the past, when you went to church, you were expected to be neatly dressed and to adhere to the written and unwritten rules. Once you had been a few times and the message appealed to you, you started to believe. Then there came a time when you made your confession or were baptized and you were allowed to belong.Nowadays…

it’s different. People want to feel welcome among Christians and in the community. ‘Belonging’ is not only a fact but also a feeling, especially in your first steps in your search for meaning, which brought you to the church. Only when you feel at home do you start to consider believing what is being said. When you see and hear and experience that believing ‘works’, then you will change your mind and want to read the Bible.

The last step will then be that you want to follow Jesus and do what He says. The well-known paradigm, behave – believe – belong, still applies, but now in the reverse order.

Made for relationships
Because our prosperous society is changing into a performance-oriented, economically driven culture, alienation from God and from each other arises. We are becoming increasingly selfish and self-centered. We have less time for each other. Doing and buying nice things seems to feed our hunger for happiness, but appearances can be deceiving. Meeting and connection says something about the core of our lives. We were created for relationships with each other and with God! Just as God created Adam and walked with him through the Garden of Eden and then longed to have someone to match him, He created you and me to be connected to each other and to Him. We humans are meant to experience relationships through encounters and connections.

The ultimate act of longing for connection was Jesus’ choice to die on the cross to restore the connection between God and people through His resurrection. It was He himself who showed what we were made for. The encounter with Jesus is the best and most beautiful you could wish for (for example, read the story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19).

It’s not about feeling
‘Encounter’ and ‘connection’ will therefore increasingly become cultural characteristics within the established churches in the Netherlands in the coming years. This is the expectation that I have heard in my networks in recent months, read on websites, and that I strongly believe in myself. People don’t just want a service with a ten to eleven hour liturgy where they hear about God and worship Him. The next generation wants to feel and experience the encounter with each other and with Godexperience . They want to experience confirmation that they are connected to each other and to God. Our deep creation characteristic, ‘need for relationship’, will have to be experienced and experienced in worship. This means shifting from an intellectual religious culture to an experiential religious culture. And understand me correctly, it is not about our feelings but about our faith.

Jesus is the core
The familiar liturgical structure is still a blessing for the elderly, they are touched by this way of encountering and connecting with God. However, if we want to experience flourishing and growing churches in the future, meeting and connection will have to be experienced in new forms, including by children, young people and young adults. In line with their perception of the world. With still the same core; Jesus.

Change is possible
I myself work from Royal Mission in the PKN in Kootstertille as a youth and community worker, and I see it happening before my eyes. People enjoy meeting during the monthly themed services. In a completely new interpretation of a Sunday morning service, people meet each other and God. I also experience future-oriented forms of church in other places where I visit. Change is possible….

Shall we focus on this in the coming years? For the revival of the church!

About Gerlof Wiersma

Man van Margreet - Vader van drie kanjers - Jeugdwerker, spreker en gepassioneerd voor de PKN

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